Natural Ways to Reduce Your Pet’s Fear During Fireworks and Thunderstorms: 9 Products That Really Work!
It is true what they say about more pets being lost around the 4th of July than any other time of the year. Fear and anxiety surrounding these loud noises is a very common occurrence. My own German Shepherd, Sebastian, is deathly afraid of thunderstorms and fireworks. It kind of seemed like it got worse and worse every year. I was desperate to relieve his anxiety. Whenever a storm came through, my 80-pound dog would shake and pace and whine. He would bust out of any crate and cut himself up in the process. He tore up mini blinds and scratched doors.
Over the years I have tried all sorts of products and modifications. I have collected all of the best ones below. Please consider sharing this page with others so that we all can keep our lovely furballs calm and safe this year. The best approach for significant fear reactions involves a well-rounded approach using multiple modalities. So grab a few products, they aren’t super expensive and they ship fast. So that you can quickly get these products onboard and experience a nice calm season.
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1. CBD tinctures & oils
CBD is all the rage right now for one simple reason…..IT WORKS. The term CBD stands for cannabinoidol, which are a group of over 100 active components found within the hemp plant. Because it is such a hot topic right now, the market is flooded with questionable quality products. Follow the link below to order the product that my clients have the best results with. To administer, I usually drip the liquid on a grain-free biscuit and it soaks in. (Sebastian’s current favorite biscuit can be found here)
Pros: Natural, Legal, Safe, Available Online, Quick activity in ~20 mins, Measurable dosages, Can be combined with other products
Cons: Many poor quality products added to market, Misguided labeling is possible
2. Herb → Valerian
Valerian ground herb is one of the first things that helped my dog, Sebastian. Valerian is the herb where Valium was discovered. Large dogs should get 1 capsule, small and medium dogs get 1/2 capsule. Mix it up in some canned food or stash it in a pill pocket. (Sebastian’s favorite variety of pill stashers)
Pros: Natural, Safe, Can be combined with other products
Cons: Takes ~ 30 mins to take full effect, mixing or capsules to administer
3. Homeopathic Remedies
Some homeopathic remedies provide anti-anxiety support. These products can be used with other herbs and medications and usually take effect in 20-30 minutes. This type of remedy is worth a try because no side effects have occurred besides extra sleepiness. Some of our favorites are made by the brand Homeopet. Pros: Safe, can be combined, Effect usually in 15-20 mins, can give additive doses, multiple ways to administer Cons: Way more effective if given before loud noises start
4. Essential Oils
Aromatherapy can help to create a calm environment for both you and your pet. Test the essential oils ahead of time to tune into your pet’s favorite. Make sure that the selected scent is associated with exceptionally positive and happy events. Most essential oils are safe for dogs, but please check the book “The Animal Desk Reference II: Essential Oils for Animals“. My tried and true oils are found below….take a peek…or a sniff. For the absolute best oil mixtures for pets- check out Dr. Melissa Shelton’s products @ https://www.animaleo.info My patients love Calm-a-Mile™ Other products that have worked for my furry and feathery family include:
5. Sound Machine
A sound machine, radio or T.V. can create a layer of noise that can cover up or drown out loud sounds. Songs with bass beats or ‘white noise’ are a great place to start. I always combine this with another positive distraction strategy or treat ( See more about delicious distracting treats below ).
6. Distracting Treats & Chews
Treats are a great way to make fireworks and storm noise less stressful for your pet. Chew treats can distract and occupy your pet’s mind and release endorphins – or “happy” chemicals. Tasty treats can be presented in puzzle toys where your pet will need time to figure it out. Or goodies that are frozen can last a good amount of time. One favorite of ours is oatmeal cooked in a Chamomile tea and frozen in bones and toys. (Bonus Tip: Buy at least two so that you always have one ready. )
And some long lasting treats: I recommend staying away from treats with a whole bunch of wheat, carbohydrates or sugar. These ingredients can cause a blood glucose spike that can make nerves even more excitable.
Thunder shirts are a wrap like “shirt” that you put on your dog to stimulate a physiological natural calming response. Temple Grandin (source), a brilliant animal behaviorist, made this anti-anxiety response to moderately applied pressure well known in the veterinary community. A ‘Thundershirt’ uses gentle pressure around your dog’s chest to promote natural relaxation. I have used them in many situations and they work great!
8. Flower Essences
Flower Essences are a great addition for a pet that seems to have an extreme emotional response that goes along with their fear or anxiety. Perhaps it was a rescue pet with past trauma or maybe her fear makes her grumpy towards other pets in the house. Mist these energetic essences around your home and spray it on your hands and gently wipe on your pet’s fur.
9. Calming Supplements
There are a lot of products out there that claim to restore peace and sanity to your pets. I’ve tried a good number of them and have found only a few that actually deliver relief. I have many times found that I have to increase the dosage recommendation quite a bit from what the packaging says. Go slow and try these out before those loud scary noises. These supplements are generally mixtures of herbs and food extracts in a palatable form.
Again, we see the best results when families take a multiangle approach to reducing the anxiety of fireworks, thunderstorms and other loud sounds. Just like humans, dogs are all unique and will respond to different products.
Take a moment to share this article with your family and friends. Also if you need a complete holistic nutrition plan to manage your pet’s anxiety on a daily basis, head on over to our online nutritional consultations. One of the most common issues that I deal with is anxiety and I know how to help your pet using holistic medicine and appropriately selected food.
Sending you all peace,
~ Dr. Candy
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The term “holistic” is a broad term that is often associated with multiple models of medicine or healing. In general, Dr. Candy Akers follows the basic belief that medicine should address the underlying cause of disease and not just treat the symptoms. This occurs by supporting your pet’s natural ability to heal and restoring the body balance. Conventional medicine often follows a different path of just treating signs or symptoms of the particular disease appearance.
Disease manifests in our pets as a result of an internal unbalance. These imbalances of normal health result from various insults or toxins encountered during modern life. Support for your pets’ body can be in various modalities such as supplements, herbs, nutrition, homeopathy, detoxification, chiropractic adjustments and acupuncture.
Dr. Akers takes an integrated approach to veterinary medicine, combining both holistic medicine and traditionally trained modern Western medicine. She uses conventional medical treatments to reduce or eliminate symptoms and pain during the healing process while supporting the body with more natural and less invasive alternative treatments. This combination improves your pet’s quality of life, longevity and whole health.